Today, I’m delighted to be sharing an excerpt from Barbara Greig’s novel Discovery as part of a blog tour hosted by The Coffee Pot Book Club. Discovery is an epic tale of love, loss and courage .
Chapter 20: An extract from a journal written in sixteenth century English (unlike the rest of the novel)
The sixteenth day of September 1557
It is eleven of the clock and all are abed, but I am unable to sleep. The experience of encountering Marie Gharsia proveth too diverting. I will recount my day before I retire, leaving out nought.
We left as the sun rose on a balmy morning and made goodly progress. Ramon was an attentive companion, pointing out sundry things, and the many leagues passed quickly. The countryside differs from Somersetshire in that all the slopes are covered with row upon row of vines. The leaves are dressed in divers colours and the deep black grapes hang low, ripe for picking. The farmhouse is of grey stone with a turret at one end. An outside staircase leads from the yard to the upper floor where the family live. Ramon hammered on the door, but none answered. The door was unlocked so he pushed it open and shouted that we had arrived. I turned and looked out over the yard. A man appeared from the barn opposite. He is slight of stature, his chestnut hair sprinkled liberally with grey. He greeted Ramon warmly and commanded us to go with him.
After introductions, we did not enter the barn. Monsieur Gaulbert explained that the grapes were being pressed. It is necessary to press the grapes on the day they are harvested. I asked to witness the pressing but could not on account of the men being naked. We were taken to the fields where there was much busyness. It was a marvellous thing to behold. The sunshine, the divers colours, and all the people working. I soon espied Luis for he is so tall. My heart leapt when he came towards us and I stammered out a greeting for he did not look like the Luis I know. He wore a smock over his trousers and wooden clogs on his feet. In all the years we have been friends he has always worn boots of the finest leather. His dark countenance was lit by a smile, one he bestows on me when my actions amuse him. I need to remind him that I am no longer a child, but I forgot myself and was so pleased to see him that I embraced him merrily.
Notwithstanding my joy, Luis suddenly unclasped me for there at his shoulder appeared an angry wife. Her glowering could not disguise a personage of great comeliness and she turned her vehement eyes on me. I faltered under such scrutiny but then I met her stare full on. I tossed my hair: plain brown it may be, but I knew the sunlight would catch the waves as they bounced on my shoulders. Her eyes were ablaze and if they had not been so full of maliciousness, her countenance would have been pleasing for she has a good complexion. She commanded Luis to step away from me which he did. This vexed me for I have always greeted him fondly since I was a child. He recovered swiftly and sayst to his wife: Marie, this is Margaret Weaver from England.
Madame Gharsia continued to look at me most cruelly, disliking my friendship with Luis. I was most uncomfortable, but I smiled without restraint to show her that her ire did me no harm. Then she sayst something in Occitan, so swiftly that I did not understand. Time went by without any more words until Henri appeared. I was mightily pleased to see him, and him, me. Presently we sat down at the side of the field and I ate a small portion of victuals. I could not eat more as Madame Gharsia still fixed me with her gimlet eye. Me thinks she is jealous, which is foolish. I am not Alyce. It is my sister who is the thorn in her flesh.
Henri was good company and we made remembrance of our journey from England, speaking not of Jane but of carefree things, until Luis scowled at us and demanded of Henri that they return to work. After they had left, Madame Gharsia made herself agreeable, being exceedingly pleasant, and asked me to accompany her back to the house. I was perturbed by this change, as well I might. Ramon took himself off to the pressing and all I could do was follow Madame Gharsia up the staircase to the living space.
Inside, I met Madame Loise Gaulbert who appeared to care little for me. She made a poor welcome and then went to feed the hens. I sat nervously on a stool while Marie Gharsia was a bombard with questions. It made me recall my dear brother, Rufus, who died a martyr of the reformist cause. He would ask many questions of acquaintances. I wonder how he would ponder on my lot. Me thinks he would be mightily displeased to see me dwelling with Madame Bernade and going to mass now we have escaped our Catholic queen. But my experience proveth that you can have great friendship with those who have difference of religion. At heart Luis is a Mahometan and I do not despite him for it for he possesses a noble spirit and has great courage, as has Madame Bernade. She succoured him when he was a child all though she is a papist. But I digress. It is Madame Gharsia who interests me.
She entreated me to partake of their black wine and to drink it heartily. I fear it made my tongue loose all though it was my good fortune that I know some Occitan if spoken slowly and Madame Gharsia knows no French. She did not call Alyce by name but used the words ‘thy sister’ always. Me thinks I understood her questions which were most searching and surpassed politeness. She has the benefits of a wife but no love from Luis as he appears cold to her which is unlike him. I saw a tear gather in her eye and began to see that her natural inclination is to be a good wife but her husband looketh elsewhere. There is nought to be done as Luis gave his heart to Alyce before he married Marie Gaulbert and he is steadfast. Madame Gharsia asketh me to make merry with her and be her friend. I will think on this and be vigilant for I suspect some plotting of mischief. I wonder what she has done to make Luis so cold.
I was heartily pleased when Ramon came to the house for our return to Caors. We went to the fields to bid our farewell and I privily admonished Luis for neglecting Alyce while Ramon was speaking to Henri. He took my admonition and sought my understanding. He has much to concern him. He persuaded me to take great care of Alyce until he has more time. I did not tell him of my fear that Alyce may be with child.
The journey back was long. The candle has burnt low. My eyes are tired, and my bed awaits.
An epic tale of love, loss and courage
When Elizabeth Gharsia’s headstrong nephew, Gabriel, joins Samuel Champlain’s 1608 expedition to establish a settlement at Quebec, he soon becomes embroiled in a complicated tribal conflict. As months turn into years, Gabriel appears lost to his family.
Meanwhile at home in France the death of her father, Luis, adds to Elizabeth’s anguish. Devastated by her loss, she struggles to make sense of his final words. Could her mother’s journals, found hidden among Luis’s possessions, provide the key to the mystery?
The arrival of Pedro Torres disrupts Elizabeth’s world even further. Rescued from starvation on the streets of Marseille by her brother, Pedro is a victim of the brutal expulsion of his people from Spain. Initially antagonistic, will Elizabeth come to appreciate Pedro’s qualities and to understand the complexity of her family?
Discovery is available at
Barbara Greig was born in Sunderland and lived in Roker until her family moved to Teesdale. An avid reader, she also discovered the joy of history at an early age. A last-minute change of heart, in the sixth form, caused her to alter her university application form. Instead of English, Barbara read Modern and Ancient History at Sheffield University. It was a decision she never regretted.
Barbara worked for twenty years in sixth form colleges, teaching History and Classical Civilisation. Eventually, although enjoying a role in management, she found there was less time for teaching and historical study. A change of focus was required. With her children having flown the nest, she was able to pursue her love of writing and story-telling. She has a passion for hiking, and dancing, the perfect antidotes to long hours of historical research and writing, as well as for travel and, wherever possible, she walks in the footsteps of her characters.
Discovery is Barbara’s second novel. Her debut novel Secret Lives was published in 2016 (Sacristy Press).
Book Title: Discovery
Author: Barbara Greig
Publication Date: 28th June 2020
Publisher: Matador (imprint of Troubador Publishing Ltd)
Page Length: 336 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction